22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): Holy Hands
(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We know that when Jesus talks, people gather around to listen to him. They watch him to see what he does. They want to know more about him. Also, they watch Jesus' disciples. They wonder about these people who follow Jesus. In the Gospel for this Sunday, the people notice something strange about some of Jesus' disciples.
When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.
We know that washing our hands before we eat is important. Why? We know about dirt and germs and viruses. If they get into our bodies, we can get sick. Washing our hands makes them clean. It is safe for us to eat with our hands if they are clean. It seems that some of the disciples do not know this. Some of the disciples are eating without washing their hands.
So the Pharisees and the scribes asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
When these people ask Jesus about his disciples, they do not say that the disciples have dirty hands. They say the disciples have defiled hands. "Defiled" means that their hands are not holy anymore. These people do not seem to be thinking about dirt and germs and viruses. They seem to be thinking about holiness.
Are the disciples hands not holy? Maybe something is not quite right here. Maybe these people are not correct. What makes something holy?
Only God is holy. If something or someone else is holy, it means that God is near. We wonder if washing our hands can make our hands holy. Can washing our hands make God be near?
Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile
Jesus says that things outside of us--like dirt and germs and viruses--cannot take away holiness. They might make us sick, but they will not push God away. The disciples want to be near to Jesus, and Jesus is so holy. His holiness makes the disciples holy, too. The disciples should wash their hands to make them clean, but only Jesus makes their hands holy.
There is a moment in the Mass when the priest washes his hands. Why does he do this? Does he come to Mass with dirty hands? Probably not. Maybe he does not need his hands to be clean, but maybe he wants them to be holy. We know that God wants so much to be with us. If the priest asks God to make his hands holy, will God come near?
Soon after he washes his hands, the priest will repeat those words that Jesus says at the Last Supper--"Take and eat, this is my body; take and drink, this is my blood." Who will soon be there in the bread? Who will soon be there in the wine? We know! We know who will soon be near making all things holy.